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Jesus' idea; a study of the real Jesus online

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in the face of the marvelous evidences of the Divine Power, dis-
played in the visible creation, and which is blind to the impli-
cation of their Scriptures, is to Jesus absurd, and worthy of
censure. Faith, however, in the immortality of man, even
though it were unexpressed by Jesus, is the essential presup-
position of all His teaching. Without this cardinal truth. His
entire teaching is aimless and preposterous. Thus we find that
the Kingdom of God must be universal in extent and aim, in
view of the essential dignity of human nature, no less than
in view of the character of God.

Finally, the character of the Kingdom itself predicates its

164 Jesus* Idea

universality. Inward and spiritual primarily, its extent Is alone
conditioned by the presence or the absence of similar qualities.
The necessary qualifications for entrance belong to man simply
as man. External considerations have no weight. The essential
qualities, as we have seen, are those of mind and heart as set
forth in the Beatitudes. These may belong to the Greek as well
as to the Jew, to the bond and to the free, to the uncircumcised
and the circumcised, to rich and poor, humble and exalte3,
learned and unlearned alike. This fundamental truth of the
Kingdom has been compelled, however, to wage incessant war-
fare against the inveterate national, racial, and class prejudices
of humanity from the beginning. The struggle of Paul with
the Judaizers in the first century, and the conduct — honoring
the rich and neglecting the poor — against which James inveighs
in his Epistle, were but the first thunderous tones of a mighty
battle which has been in progress down the centuries. Even
to-day this concept of the Kingdom is to a great extent but
a beautiful theory In our world, our national and our individual
life. The battle Is by no means won. The North against the
South, the East against the West, the white man against the
black man, the rich against the poor, labor against capital,
knowledge despising Ignorance, nation against nation, civiliza-
tion against barbarism, Christendom versus Heathendom, amply
attest that, while much has been accomplished, much remains
to be accomplished. God, however, is no respecter of persons.
The Kingdom Is intended for all men, and all men are worthy
of the Kingdom. Surely there is great need to-day of that
sterling Christian manhood which shall protest without fear
or favor against the tendency in Church and State which re-
spects position rather than humanity — the tendency upon which
every tyranny in the State and every despotism In the Church
has reared Its superstructure, and by means of which they have

There is, in conclusion, only one restriction upon the extent
of the Kingdom of God: the inability or the unwillingness of
the individual to comply with the conditions imposed for en-
trance. Despite the Intent of the Kingdom, it is not universally
accepted. When measured by the ideal or goal, the results in-
deed are disappointing; but when measured by the humanity
and the civilization with which the Kingdom has had to deal,

The Extent of the Kingdom 165

the results are most encouraging. While men willingly admit
that the times are "out of joint," while they acknowledge the
marvelous harmony in which the universe of God proceeds;
while they see that the world of nature is a sequence of laws
well ordered and harmoniously followed; that everywhere is
concord save in the world of man ; that the whole creation may
be compared to a superb organ, mighty in size, perfect in con-
struction, and exquisite in tone, but with a single key out of
tune, which spoils the music of the whole, yet they will not
take the proper steps to remedy the discord. The Universe, the
world of nature, follow their appointed law: they are the
Kingdom of God, the sphere in which His rule is obeyed. It
is not so, however, in the world of man. Here we have —

"a jarring and a dissonant thing
Amid this general dance and minstrelsy."

The remedy for this vast discord, of course, is the universal
extension of the Kingdom — the sovereignty of God. The
world's reception of the Kingdom alone prevents the universality
of the celestial harmony. The refusal of Adam, however, is
still the popular ideal. Creation is a divided realm. Will
there ever be union? Will the extension of the Kingdom ever
be complete, and God be the supreme and the unquestioned

Translated into terms of individuality, the question is. Who
will share ultimately in the Kingdom of God? Will all men
be saved, or only some men? Will the Kingdom be entirely
successful, or only partially so? Will God rule over all men
ultimately by Love, or will He be compelled to rule over some
in an eternal hell by compulsion? Questions of tragic impor-
tance thus confront us. Can we answer any, or all of them?

It is evident that Jesus reveals the ultimate triumph of the
Kingdom of God. While specific evidence is not wanting, the
whole trend of His thought and teaching is in this direction.
St. Paul truly represents His Master in the glowing language
of I Cor. 15:24-29, and Eph. i: 10. The Kingdom w^ill tri-
umph. But how and to what extent? are the crucial questions.
Will mankind submit to the sovereignty of God? If not, what
will be the fate of the rebellious? Several theories have been
5et forth to solve this problem. Universalism, the common view

1 66 Jesus' Idea

of the ultimate separation of the good and the evil, and Condi-
tional Immortality alike offer their program. The very con-
trariety of these views however, with the facts upon which
they are based, indicates, we think, the impossibility of arriv-
ing at any solution of our problem which possesses certainty or
even probability. Jesus did not answer our question, and in-
volved in its determination are the Love of God and the Free-
will of Man. Who can say what these may ultimately accom-
plish ?

"So I read
The constant action of celestial powers

Mixed into waywardness of mortal men,
Whereof no sage's eye can trace the course
And see the close.

Fruitful result, O sage !
Certain uncertainty."



In the popular belief of to-day, the Kingdom of God is
regarded almost exclusively as future in time. An assertion
of the present existence of the Kingdom on the earth would,
indeed, provoke a smile of derision in many quarters; for the
advent of the Kingdom is popularly identified with the end
of the world. The present life is to give place to the future,
or eternal life, and that will be the Kingdom of God. This
view, however, is extremely defective, and overlooks the funda-
mental import of Christianity. Numerous evils, also, are the
offspring of this conception. The Christian religion is emascu-
lated. The world that is, and the world that is to come, are
widely separated in thought. The religious and the secular
are divorced. Men value the future life, and despise, or mini-
mize, the present life. We have Monasticism perverting Ca-
tholicism, and Asceticism stifling Christianity. The social and
the altruistic aspect of the Christian religion is sacrified to the
individual, the egoistic aspect. The world is flooded with so-
called Christian societies, whose origin, aim, and end is selfish-
ness. *'The Imitation of Christ" of Thomas A. Kempis, with
its emphasis of personal and ignoring of social religion, is the
ideal of thousands, in contradistinction to the Christianity of
Christ. In fact, the inevitable outcome of this idea is the
degradation of Christianity to the veritable level of an Insur-
ance Society, which simply issues policies in favor of Heaven.
If, however, this view of "the time" of the Kingdom is inade-
quate, what are we to believe about this subject? To know the
truth, we must consult the teaching of Jesus.

A cursory glance, however, at the New Testament seems
to reveal glaring inconsistency and contradiction in Our Lord's
teaching. Jesus speaks, apparently, of the Kingdom now as
present in time, and again as future. This fact, indeed, has
given rise to several theories. It is contended bv some that,


1 68 Jesus* Idea

in His early ministry, Jesus expected the sudden and miraculous
inauguration of the Kingdom, and that later He was made per-
force to see that the Kingdom could come only after a long
period of development. Others maintain that He always con-
ceived of the Kingdom as future, and that whatever reference
there is to it in His teaching as present is merely anticipatory.
These explanations, however, are not convincing. That Jesus
spoke of the time of the Kingdom in terms which seem to be
inconsistent and contradictory is undeniable, but that His teach-
ing is inconsistent is by no means evident. On the contrary. He
spoke of the Kingdom as both present and future, because the
very nature of the Kingdom demanded that He do so. This
will become apparent as we proceed. Let us now, however, con-
sider the testimony for the present character of the Kingdom.

While the Jews were utterly unable to see that the King-
dom of God, so loudly heralded by John, and by Jesus, was at
hand, inasmuch as their conception of the Kingdom efEectually
blinded their eyes, yet the Kingdom was at hand. "The King-
dom of God is among you," was Jesus' reply to the Pharisees,
who asked, ''when the Kingdom of God cometh?" (St. Lu.
17:21). "The Kingdom of God is come upon you," was
His suggestion also to the Pharisees, who accused Him of cast-
ing out devils through Beelzebub, their prince (St. Lu. 11 : 20).
He also speaks of the Kingdom as being taken by violence.^
The present character of the Kingdom is also indicated in the
remark made upon the return of the Seventy: "I beheld Satan
as lightning fall from heaven" (St. Lu. 10: 18). The King-
dom, indeed, as a present fact has confronted us throughout
our entire study. Where this is not explicitly stated, it is
implied. It is the presupposition of the parables of Growth —
the Sower, the Seed Growing Secretly, the Mustard Seed. The
parable of the Leaven is meaningless unless the Kingdom is
present, and acting like leaven. The parables of the Tares and
the Drag-Net also represent the Kingdom's admixture of good
and bad in this present world. The Beatitudes, again, notice-
ably imply the present possession of the Kingdom of God.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of

^ "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom
of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" (St
Mt. 11:13; St. Lu. 16:16).

The Time of the Kingdom 169

heaven." Jesus also speaks of persons as now entering the
Kingdom. The publicans and harlots enter before the chief
priests and elders (St. Mt. 21:31). Men, again, are urged
to seek the Kingdom before all things (St. Mt. 6:36), evi-
dently implying a present quest. Woe is pronounced upon the
Scribes and Pharisees because they "shut up the kingdom of
heaven against men, for ye enter not in j'ourselves, neither
suffer ye them that are entering to enter" (St. Mt. 23: 13).
Mankind, again, is urged to enter into Life. "Narrow is the
way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it"

(St. Mt. 7:13-14).

This use of the term "life" is very interesting and sug-
gestive. "Life," indeed, in the fulness of its capacity, is
the comprehensive blessing of the Kingdom. In this connec-
tion, the teaching of St. John in the Fourth Gospel about
"eternal life" is important. "Eternal Life," in fact, is the
Johannine equivalent for the Kingdom of God. The thought-
ful reader of the Fourth Gospel is soon impressed by the scant
attention given the ever-present phrase of the Synoptic Gospels
— "The Kingdom of God," or "The Kingdom of Heaven."
Eternal Life seems to be the engrossing theme, and to occupy
in the mind of St. John the position which had been held by
the Kingdom of God in the thought of the Synoptists. Upon
reflection, however, no cause for bewilderment is found. St.
John was ever occupied rather with the content and meaning
of Christianity, than with the perpetuation of the form in which
it was originally given. A little thought reveals that the King-
dom of God and Eternal Life are equivalent: the one is the
other. The point of view may be different, but the object
viewed is the same. The Kingdom of God is eternal or en-
during life; eternal life is the Kingdom of God. This is well
illustrated in the saying: "He that doeth the will of God
abideth forever." Hence, when St. John emphasizes "life" and
"eternal life," he does not minimize the Kingdom of God. He
rather views the Kingdom in the aspect of its character and
end. "Eternal Life" is the subjective aspect of the Kingdom
in relation to personality and eternity. Bearing this fact in
mind, we notice throughout the Fourth Gospel that St. John
speaks of "eternal life" as a present possession, and a present
fact. "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life" (St.

1 70 Jesus' Idea

Jn. 6:47).^

Thus we learn from abundant sources that the Kingdom of
God was a present fact.^ In this respect, indeed, Jesus was in
full accord with the popular Jewish expectation, while He
dissents from the popular view of to-day as to the exclusively
future character of the Kingdom. That Jesus, while opposing
the Pharisaic view of the materialistic and political Kingdom
of God, was not led to the opposite extreme of viewing the
Kingdom as entirely future, "transcendental and heavenly," a
tendency already marked in the Apocalyptic literature of His
time, is only one of the many illustrations of the splendid bal-
ance, the superb equipoise of the Man of Nazareth.

The popular query to-day, however, no less than in the
day of Our Lord, is this: Admitting that Jesus taught the
actual existence of the Kingdom, where is it, and what is it?
The Kingdom seems non-existent. Jesus, indeed, seemed in His
own day to present a sorry spectacle — A King without a

To understand where it is, let us again recall the funda-
mental character of the Kingdom. It is inward and spiritual.
It is primarily a Kingdom of the inner life. God's Kingdom is
where God's will is sovereign. John and Jesus had declared

^ This, again, suggests also an important truth : the word "eternal"
does not relate so much to time as to character. "Eternal life" is
not merely a life that is endless ; it is rather a life which continues,
because it is the kind of life that deserves to continue, and must
continue. It is a life begun on earth, and possessing the power of
survival after death.

^ Yet other evidence is available. Jesus speaks of the least of His
disciples in the Kingdom as then greater than the greatest of the
adherents of the Old Dispensation — John the Baptist. The humblest
disciple of the Kingdom, He means, "enjoys greater privileges and
stands upon a higher plane of revelation" (St. Mt. ii:ii). The
Sermon on the Mount is, also, descriptive throughout of the
righteousness of the subjects of the Kingdom in this world. The
virtues there inculcated are evidently to be realized in the ordinary
relationships of man with man. Unexpected and incidental testi-
mony corroborative of the present character of the Kingdom is
also found. Certain delicate expressions, such as the Greek word
(afwubdrj, used in the parable of the Tares, and already referred
to, are very suggestive. This word declares, for example, that the
Kingdom, even as Jesus was speaking, "had become like" a field
containing tares intermingled with the wheat.

The Time of the Kingdom 171

repeatedly, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." And it
was at hand; it was present; it was a fact. It was at hand,
present, and a fact in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth. By
Him, indeed, God's will was done on earth as it is done in
Heaven. "Not my will be done, but thine, O Lord." The
soul, the mind, and the heart of Jesus were the Kingdom of
God.^ In the inner life of Jesus, there was that conscious
harmony w^ith God's will, which is akin to the perfect but
unconscious harmony which exists in the world of Nature, and
throughout the Universe. The Kingdom of God in human-
ity, indeed, which should have been introduced in, and through,
the person of the First Adam, was at last actual in, and through,
the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Second Adam. Further,
the Kingdom began to be extended when Jesus collected a band
of disciples about Him into whose hearts a new principle of
life was introduced — the principle of divine rule. The Second
Adam, indeed, was begetting spiritual children to continue
the good, as the First Adam had begotten children of the flesh
to perpetuate the evil. The one was the founder of a hu-
manity divorced from God; the other founded a humanity
wedded to God. The one divided the Kingdom of God; the
other united it. In the one and his descendants, indeed, the
world for centuries had drifted away from God; in the other
and His descendants the world for centuries would advance
toward God.

The Kingdom of God had thus with Jesus become primarily
a Kingdom of personality. The Kingdom, indeed, had availed
itself of the most forceful of all agencies for good — the power
of the personal life. Jesus, henceforth, as the actual embodi-
ment of the Kingdom in the Individual, must necessarily exert
an ever-increasing influence over the minds and hearts of men.
Ideas are comparatively powerless unless clothed with person-
ality. Incarnate in a person, they become sources of undying
influence. Well has George Eliot said: "Ideas are often poor
ghosts; our sun-filled eyes cannot discern them; they pass
athwart us in their vapor, and cannot make themselves felt.
But sometimes they are made flesh; they breathe upon us with
warm breath; they touch us with soft, responsive hands, they

^^ "The soul is the microcosm within which, in all its strength, the
Kingdom of God is set up."

172 Jesus^ Idea

look at us with sad, sincere eyes, and speak to us in appealing
tones; they are clothed in a living, human soul, with all its
conflicts, its faith and its love. Then their presence is a power,
then they shake us like a passion, and we are drawn after
them with gentle compulsion, as flame is drawn to flame."
This, indeed, was the glory and the power inhering in the
present ''time" of the Kingdom.

That Jesus desired men to believe the Kingdom present
in His own Person may be inferred from His reply to the
embassy sent to Him by John the Baptist, from the prison fort-
ress of Machero. John, we remember, had been imprisoned by
Herod for his boldness in rebuking the incestuous union between
Herod and his brother Philip's wife. The prophet was lying
in prison, disheartened and downcast. Doubts began to haunt
him. On the banks of the Jordan he had testified unhesitatingly
to the Messiahship of the Prophet of Galilee. Things, how-
ever, have not shaped themselves as he had expected. Conse-
quently, he sends two of his disciples to Jesus with the question :
**Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?"
"Jesus answered and said unto them. Go and show John again
those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their
sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf
hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel
preached to them." The answer is not direct, but suggestive.
John is to draw his own conclusion. As soon, however, as we
hear Jesus' reply, our minds instinctively revert to the Inaugural
Address delivered in the synagogue of Nazareth, and, at once,
we perceive His meaning. Jesus had identified Himself in that
address with the Messianic character prophecied about of old.
Now He suggests to John that, if he will consider the signs
of the times as they are revealed in His Person, and the work
which He is doing, there will be no reason to doubt that the
long-expected Messiah had come, and with Him, the Kingdom
of God. John was laboring to some extent under the per-
verted Messianic ideas of the day, and Jesus reminds him of
Isaiah's picture of the Messianic King and Kingdom, suggest-
ing that it is finding fulfilment before His very eyes, if he will
but open them and see.

That Jesus also spoke of the Kingdom as future in time,
as well as present, cannot be reasonably denied. On one occa-

The Time of the Kingdom 173

sion, He declared that some of the bystanders would not die
until they had seen the Kingdom of God come with power.
"And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there
be some of them that stand here which shall not taste of death,
till they have seen the Kingdom of God come with power"
(St. Mk. 9:1). He also taught that men should come from
the East and the West to sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
in the Kingdom (St. Lu. 13:29). At the Last Supper, He
referred to a future repast with the disciples in the King-
dom. The passages are respectively: "And they shall come
from the East and from the West; and from the North and
from the South, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God."
"Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of
the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom
of God." We must bear in mind, however, at this point,
that the Kingdom of God is present in time before it can be
future. The two times of the Kingdom, indeed, bear to each
other the relation of cause and effect, of antecedent and result.
To interpret the Kingdom only in an eschatological, or final,
sense, is in reality to misunderstand the very nature of the
Kingdom. For a due appreciation of the essential nature of
the Kingdom will reveal that "strictly speaking the future of
the Kingdom is divided, and the notes of time are really three-
fold, — present, near future, and more distant future."

While present in the world, the Kingdom is always coming,
paradoxical as it may seem. It is this fact, indeed, which
necessitates "the near future" of the Kingdom, and predicts the
"more distant future." The Kingdom of God is first within
the man. Planted within the individual, it is little more in
the beginning than an humble desire to conform to the will
of God. Only gradually, and after labor, struggle, and years,
does the sovereignty of God gain control of the entire mind,
and heart, and life — yet all the while the Kingdom is present
and acting like the leaven of the Master's illustration — "a prin-
ciple working from within outward, for the renewal and trans-
formation" of the individuality, affecting life in all its rela-
tionships, even influencing the mental processes, reconstructing
the thought. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, but not
at once. When introduced, it affects the parts immediately
adjacent, and ultimately the whole. Thus Our Lord's teaching

174 Jesus' Idea

in regard to the time of the Kingdom, contradictory and incon-
sistent as it may appear to the superficial, is but the logical
development of the principle enunciated in the parable of the
Leaven. It is but the parable of the Leaven translated into
terms of time. If the Kingdom acts like leaven, there must
be both a near future and a more distant future for the King-
dom of God.

And, as it is with the Kingdom in the individual life, so
it is in the world at large. The sovereignty of God is social
in aspect, as well as individualistic. It is intended to "renew^
and transform every department of human existence." It seeks
a lost society as well as a lost individual. The social organism
is, indeed, full of darkness, because it lacks singleness of eye.
For example, the subject of Marriage should show an ever
closer approximation to the divine ideal because of the leaven
of the Kingdom in the world. The true principle of Mar-
riage and Divorce is set forth in St. Mt. 19:3-9. As this
principle prevails, we have the near future of the Kingdom,
and the token of the more distant future. The Kingdom, also,
consecrates social and family life, and seeks for their con-
formity to the Divine Ideal, as Jesus indicated by His presence,
and first miracle which He wrought at the Wedding Feast of
Cana in Galilee. The State itself should also reveal, and should
reveal increasingly, the near future of the Kingdom.^

^ 'Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the
things that are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's."
(St. Mt. 21 :2i). This utterance, indeed, sheds a brilliant light upon
the comprehensiveness of the Kingdom. The Pharisees taught that
the Jews, as the Chosen People, should be ruled by God alone, or by
His immediate Vicegerent. Hence the payment of the annual poll-
tax to Rome was exceedingly obnoxious. They consult Jesus as to

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